June 1, 2023

Special Considerations When Calculating Damages in Traumatic Brain Injury Claims

As with most personal injury cases, damages in a brain injury case typically consist of past, present, and future medical expenses; present and future lost wages; and pain and suffering. Damages in a brain injury case can be significant, largely depending on the severity and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. A careful plaintiff’s attorney should employ the best expert witnesses when proving damages, and should consider the following special challenges which plaintiff will face when calculating damages in a traumatic brain injury case.

Medical Expenses. Survivors of severe brain injury require extensive, and often costly, medical attention. In addition to the emergency medical professionals, a brain injury patient will likely need on-going or long-term care from a variety of other medical specialists. Plaintiff’s attorneys often mistakenly extrapolate total damages from present medical expenses. In reality, there is no relationship between the amount of the present medical bills and the extent of the plaintiff’s disability and total damages.

Plaintiff’s attorneys often err in classifying life care costs as future medical expenses, and employ a physician to testify to the amount. Physicians, however, rarely have real knowledge of long-term care costs, which can include rehabilitation, substitute household services, assistive or adaptive devices and transportation, etc. An expert in outstanding life care will be far more persuasive, and qualified, to testify to the extent of life care costs, and can open the jury’s eyes to the full extent of the plaintiff’s loss.

Pain and Suffering. Pain and suffering is always the hardest number to predict, and unfortunately, it is largely dependent on the individual values of the jury members. Rather than relying on the jury to choose a large pain and suffering number based upon impassioned closing argument, let the magnitude of the other damages direct the jury. The jury will likely use medical expenses and loss of earnings to gauge pain and suffering.

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